Monthly Archives: August 2006
The conservative Washington Times in its second editorial titled Nabbing Tigers within a week, hailed the arrests of LTTE cadres based in the US and Canada as an essential crackdown to bring the terrorists back to a negotiating table.
The August 25 editorial
The arrests in the past week of supporters of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers is the kind of crackdown needed to bring the separatist rebels back to the negotiating table. Any meaningful cease-fire negotiations in Sri Lanka are predicated on cutting off the influx of money and weapons to the Tigers, forcing talks in order to forge a lasting resolution and not simply to rearm themselves during the break in fighting.
The arrested Tiger supporters tried to purchase AK-47 rifles and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, according to a complaint that was unsealed recently in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. The United States officially declared the Tamil Tigers a terrorist organization in 1997, making it illegal for the rebel group to raise money in the United States. The separatist group still does, however, and sources of funding from Tamil sympathizers abroad, particularly in the West, allows the group to continue fighting in Sri Lanka. Tiger sympathizers also work the public-relations angle, playing up legitimate grievances of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka while downplaying the heinous methods — the often-forceful recruiting of women and children and the use of suicide bombers – that the Tigers employ. This was the first time that Tiger supporters were arrested for trying to purchase weapons in North America – a disconcerting development that some analysts have interpreted as a move to a more operational role for the Tigers supporters in the West.
The Tigers have an active and well-polished propaganda machine, but it should stumble when confronted with court documents that note that the suspects speculated about the number of deaths that could be inflicted by the weapons, and laughed.
The image of the Tigers abroad was dealt a solid blow this year when Canada and the European Union passed stiff bans on the group. Tiger sympathizers are clearly interested in rehabilitating the group’s image: also in court were supporters charged with attempting to bribe agents working undercover as State Department officials to get the Tigers taken off of the terrorist list.
The conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the separatists is regional, but the Tigers’ network of finance and support is international. Targeting that network, as the recent arrests show that the United States, Canada and Britain have, may be the only way to bring a cease-fire to the war-weary island .-The Island
ADB suspends power sector engagement; Bottlenecks identified in contractor performance; Community level desire reason for progress in NE projects
By Sunimalee Dias
A top donor agency yesterday asserted the need for increased coordination while expressing concerns regarding the situation in the North and East.
A high level mission headed by ADB’s Director General for South Asia Kunio Senga identified nearly US$71 million of ADB projects to be immediately cancelled or reallocated, to improve the ADB portfolio after conducting intense deliberations with the government in arriving at concrete measures to improve the ADB’s portfolio.
The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) South Asia Regional Management team for the Special Portfolio Review Mission for Sri Lanka held meetings with government officials during their visit.
In his opening address Senga highlighted their concerns about the recent intensification in the conflict which he said was an obstaile to implement projects and it was difficult to prepare for new ones with regard to ADB’s assistance in the North and East.
“With the decisions made during this mission, US$41 million of our concessional funds have been reallocated, primarily to cover the requirements of the expansion of water supply and sanitation systems in Polonnaruwa, Mutur, Batticaloa, and Hambantota.ADB’s active portfolio in Sri Lanka stands at 51 loans and grants totaling U$1.6 billion.
It was pointed out that during their meetings with the government they had agreed on actions to facilitate implementation of projects, such as reviews of contractor’s performance and increasing adoption of procedures by the government.
Senga observed that certain bottlenecks were identified as well in terms of how to rectify ongoing programmes as the contractors’ performance need be improved thereby helping them to operate better with clearance among other pressing issues.
Lack of communication and coordination between the government agencies and the ADB was identified, he said.
The ADB delegation noted that they were indeed disappointed about the progress but stated that they would remain flexible in a bid to allow the government to carry out its internal discussions following which they would be awaiting some proposal to be put forward once the formulation of the national economic strategy was in place.
In response to questions concerning the development efforts in the North and East, the head of delegation said that as far as new proposals were concerned they were able to fully initiate the process as it was observed that the feel of the local community was required to understand the situation in these areas.
“The desire is in the hands of the people ….so despite the difficult situation progress would be made” while making sure security would be assured to them, Senga said.
However, ADB Country Director Alessandro Pio observed that there was a risk involved and noted that some assets might be directly affected as a result of the current situation there.
Identifying the Sri Lanka regional portfolio as being “slightly above average” he said, “We’d like to see further enhancement.”
Meanwhile yesterday Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundere charged that it was the change of governments and policies since the 1980s that contributed to the long held delay in the commencement of various projects.
Projects could not be implemented due to this legacy since the 1980s this has been affected, he told journalists.
He was replying to a question based on the delay in carrying out restructuring in the power sector.
In the case of the power sector, Dr. Jayasundere pointed out that the significant cancellation of US$30 million second tranche was carried out since it had expired.
He noted that distribution and transmission issues had to be addressed in a bid to ensure that the power sector changes could be effected.
However, prior to these it was essential to have a reliable supply of electricity, the treasury secretary noted.
Dr. Jayasundere commenting on the ADB portfolio said that each loan and grant have been examined in order to improve on them further which were reviewed in consultation with the line ministries.
A request for a fully-fledged delegation to ensure that projects identified would be “manageable” while protecting the trust of these projects; re-orientation of these projects as well, he said.
Commercial funds for credit line and support to power sector reform amounting to around US$34 have been cancelled.
*Southern Transport Development Project (STDP) from Colombo to Matara with a length of 128km for completion by 2010.
*Tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation amounting to US$157 million
*Northeast community restoration programme at US$10.96 apporved.
*Southern reconstruction programme total US19 million
*Southern coastal resource development
*Northeast coastal community development
*All affected districts’ end borrowers benefited from rural finance from Rs.749, 708,155 disbursed. Credit line movement in the Northeast has been slowed due to uncertainty.
*Legal assistance and governance
*Income generating opportunities for the poor provided from US$2 million grant from ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR)
Via… Daily Mirror
The country’s premier private sector lobby group Ceylon Chamber of Commerce yesterday said that the mere formation of a national government was not enough but called for unqualified and unconditional consensus on peace initiative.
Following is the full text of the Chamber’s statement.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has consistently supported a bilateral approach by the two main political parties of the country towards resolving the ethnic conflict and is greatly encouraged by the decisive step taken by the President to invite the main opposition party to form a national government.
Whilst applauding this courageous move, the Chamber is not convinced that the mere formation of a national government is the panacea for all the problems facing our country. For there to be a meaningful impact through such convergence, it is absolutely essential that consensus – unqualified and unconditional, should be reached as a priority regarding the peace initiative. This should be the focus above all else.
The mistrust and enmity of the past must be set-aside in the greater interest of the country and a common strategy developed to create an environment for sustainable peace. This will give the LTTE the confidence to negotiate positively with an unified Southern entity, whilst giving the Government the strength of a cohesive stance, representing the majority view of the southern populace.
We urge the Government and the Opposition to be resolute in their determination in achieving this objective.
Via… FINANCIAL TIMES
The President has mooted an initiative to establish a national government. He should be commended for it. This initiative of his is very much in keeping with his style of management; I recall that immediately after the Tsunami when he was Prime Minister he established an all Party Committee but with the arrival of CBK in the country, she callously stated that nothing had been done whereas the then PM had not only set up a bipartisan committee but also travelled to Tsunami affected areas to show concern and to arrange for support. It would be recalled that CBK grabbed it all and established three committees but it all ended up in a total mess. Yes the President has an inclusive approach and this is a refreshing difference to all that has gone before both with the PA and UNP Administrations,
The new initiative is not only logical but also timely for we must face the enemy of the country including of the Tamil people, unitedly. We must address the LTTE with one voice and state that the State seeks a settlement. We need to address the perception among the Tamil people that they have been betrayed not only by the Sinhalese with whom Ramanathan Ponnambalam and Ramanathan Arunchaalam worked tirelessly for our independence but also by their own kind. We must work towards reuniting our fractured society in which all our people no matter whatever the community they belong to or whatever relations we may have had in the past, feel that they have equal rights, privileges and obligations.
The two main political parties are both pledged to furthering a multi ethnic, multi-cultural, Democratic political system. They both profess to pursuing ‘Free Market’ economic policies; their foreign policies are identical; their Social policies are the same; the approach to the ‘national problem—-the insurgency in the north, is also identical – devolution of power (there may be differences regarding the extent of ‘devolution’—but they have both accepted that Devolution may be, I repeat, maybe the answer. A two pronged approach has been pursued by both parties towards the LTTE.
The verdict of the people of this country at the last Presidential was decisive. When they voted for the two major parties they also endorsed the above mentioned policies. They also wanted either of these parties to govern or at best for them to come together. They certainly did not vote for the Sihala Urumaya or the JVP to have a say in the governance of the country. The very structure of the political system precludes governance by one single political party, but this does not mean that the framers of the Constitution were of the opinion that the smaller Parties whose policies have been rejected by the electorate, should be placed in such a position as to be able to dictate policy or control government. Power sharing should not be confused with the enthronement of rejected political parties. This would make a mockery of the will of the people as expressed through the election.
The JVP is today seeking to extract their pound of flesh for having assisted the President in his election campaign; making demands that would prove disastrous to the security and well being of the country. The two major political Parties must NEVER allow themselves to be dictated to in this regard. Any horse deals (these are really donkey deals) must be ruled out completely. If the smaller Parties wish to come into government then they MUST come in on the terms of the senior partner. It is certainly a good thing to have ‘inclusive’ as opposed to ‘exclusive’ governments but the tail must never be allowed to wag the dog.
The political culture of this country has been built on adversarial, confrontational politics without regard to the national interest. Our politicians have missed the wood for the trees. This is the unfortunate tradition which we seem to want to perpetuate. The cement that has held this form of confrontational politics together has been, the vulgar pursuit of political power, for with goes the opportunity to mount the gravy train and get rich quickly. In the process have we not become a morally degenerate society?
The need of the hour is for strong government. And it is only a strong government in Colombo that can end the insurgency in the north. It is only a strong government that can resolve the ethnic issue and meet the challenge of the consequent terrorism and create the requisite political and economic climate to meet the challenges of Globalization. Weak, unstable governments cannot meet the challenges we face today. What incidentally are these challenges? -we have the insurgency or the war in the north, we have a depressed economy with a high level of commercial borrowing, a high level of corruption, a very high level of crime, a sluggish judicial system, which takes years to bring criminals to justice, an education system which does not cater to the new world that is emerging, leave alone catering to forging national unity. The public service needs to be reformed and energized to meet the needs of the times, new skills are urgently needed. Agriculture is in the dumps. We need to urgently develop our physical infrastructure. We need to augment our energy supplies otherwise we shall not have power in a few years. We need to be able to meet the challenges of the technology and competition driven global environment of the new Millennium. Have we progressed or digressed as a people over the past 50 years? We need a shake up and no weak coalition can deliver us from our plunging plight. We must have strong government and this is what the President is striving to achieve.
We need to usher in an age of cooperation and leave behind us the age of confrontation, which has done immeasurable harm to this country. Whilst other countries are galloping ahead we are moving backwards. The disease of confrontation has spread to all levels of our society. The politician is at the bottom of this——we must pull back from the abyss. Our political parties must learn to co-exist and make political cooperation an art form.
The leader of the UNP must extend his hand sincerely to the President. The President is the President of all our people; he must himself rise above petty party politics explain himself to the UNP leader as to why he seeks his cooperation, accept no excuses, bury the past and set an example to the younger generation of this country.
Politics in this country is today a blood sport-governed by the rules of the slum—-where the criminal underworld rules and where the scum of our society predominate. Politicians were for some years the patrons of the scum but the wheel appears to have turned and the scum from the slums, with their values, have begun to lord it over the politicians. Some have even become politicians. The form of politics that is found in the West -and which we have had in this country until JR Jayewardene came along, appears to have gone out of the window, but I hope not forever. Political Parties in this country represent organized hatred.
Ours is said to be a Buddhist country but politicians who claim to be Buddhists appear to have sullied Buddhism. There is neither tolerance nor compassion only hate for fellow beings. Could anyone explain how Buddhist Monks could call for a military solution to the conflict in the north? They disgrace the robe the Buddha wore. We need to have strict compliance with the Vinaya Pitaka, the State should ensure this as in Thailand and Myanmar to protect Buddhism in this country. What has happened to our people?
Have we been anesthetized to injustice, violence, to corruption and to what is fundamentally wrong? I have often thought that we the people are the victims, victims trapped in a certain system created for us by itinerant politicians. But then again are we not co-conspirators for by not confronting them we allow the power hungry politician to dictate terms and decide for us. It is we who have allowed the political culture of this country to degenerate. Is it not a sad indictment on us that we who do not trust the politician, we who do not believe them, are compelled to suffer them even when they act in their own interest merely to stay in power.
The need of the hour is for strong inclusive government. Professor GL Peiris I believe suggested a Donoughmore type Constitutional arrangement; we see much merit in such a non-confrontational constitutional arrangement. Perhaps some creative thinking could be done to transform the system of governance with the appointment of a new grade of Senior Ministers who would head Executive Committees of Parliament. It is only a strong inclusive government as contemplated by President Rajapakse that can end the insurgency in the north and usher in peace and prosperity for all the people of our blessed land. Let us support the President in every way we can in this endeavour.
Via… The Island
U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Steven Mann met with Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the upsurge in fighting between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Sri Lankan security forces. More than seven hundred people have been killed this year, despite a cease-fire negotiated in 2002.
Mr. Mann says the United States, “calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities” and a return to negotiations for, “an undivided Sri Lanka.” The Tamil Tigers must “cease all acts of violence immediately and return to negotiations,” he said. “The government of Sri Lanka,” said Mr. Mann, “must work seriously to address legitimate Tamil grievances and ensure that the conduct of its security forces is impeccable, even in combat.”
Sri Lankan civilians and foreign humanitarian workers have been among those killed in fighting around the Sri Lankan city of Mutur. The Red Cross estimates over twenty-thousand people have been displaced.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mann said the United States calls, “on all sides to give full support to non-governmental organizations operating in the affected regions and to respect the dedicated work they are doing in alleviating the suffering.” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher says the Tamil Tigers are responsible for “scores of unprovoked attacks on civilians and military personnel, [and] assassinations and suicide operations.” Mr. Boucher says the terror must stop:
“The fact is this is a terrorist group that needs to be treated accordingly. That does not mean one has to close the door on peace. But it does mean that, as we try to leave the door open to peace, you have to walk through that door without a suicide bomb on your belt.”
Assistant Secretary of State Boucher says the U.S. is urging the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government, “to get back to the negotiating table and to create the climate for de-escalation of the violence and solution of the problems.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.
Via… Voice of America